UPDATE: J.P. Morgan ordered to pay more than $4 billion to widow for botching estate settlement
By Andrea Riquier
'People we are supposed to trust with our livelihood abused my family and me out of sheer ineptitude and greed,' the widow charged
A Dallas jury on Tuesday ordered JPMorgan Chase & Co.(JPM) to pay more than $4 billion in damages for mismanaging the estate of a former executive for American Airlines(AAL) .
Max Hopper's widow, Jo, and two stepchildren hired the bank in 2010 to administer his estate--which totaled more than $19 million--after his sudden death from a stroke. He had no last will and testament.
Instead, the jury found, the bank committed fraud, breached its fiduciary duty and broke a fee agreement. It took years to release assets, so long that in some cases stock options expired. The bank also ignored requests from Jo Hopper to sell certain stocks, and paid legal fees out of the estate's proceeds.
"The bank took years to release basic interests in art, home furnishings, jewelry and notably, Mr. Hopper's collection of 6,700 golf putters and 900 bottles of wine," the Hoppers' attorneys said in a statement (http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/texas-jury-finds-jp-morgan-chase-violated-estate-administration-duties-and-awards-more-than-4-billion-in-punitive-damages-300526398.html). "Even today some assets--now more than seven years after Mr. Hopper's death--still have not been released to Mrs. Hopper."
"The nation's largest bank horribly mistreated me and this verdict provides protection to others from being mistreated by banks that think they're too powerful to be held accountable," Jo Hopper said in a statement.
"Surviving stage 4 lymphoma cancer was easier than dealing with this bank and its estate administration," Hopper added.